Monday, June 04, 2007

The Fat Cyclist phenomenon

(and other reasons why I love blogging)

Date: June 3
Mileage: 28.8
June mileage: 50.2
Temperature upon departure: 65

Yesterday my new Fat Cyclist jersey showed up in the mail. Then today, like a stroke of good luck, the sky opened into some oh-so-rare short-sleeves weather. So I donned my stylish new jersey - for good luck - then proceeded to run over a chunk of glass the size of a molar, break one of my brake arms while changing the flat, and forget to release my foot from my clipless pedals at the Glacier Visitor Center - slamming my knee (my bad knee) into the pavement in front of God and a whole lot of tourists. Yes, I did Team Fatty proud.

How this jersey found its way to my doorstep is an interesting story - at least, it’s interesting to me. When I started keeping a blog in November 2005, I was not really a cyclist. I was an occasional recreational rider with a few touring miles behind me, but I was not a cyclist in the pure sense of the word. But as a new resident of Alaska, I had some growing interest in a strange thing called snow biking. Snow biking events don’t start small in Alaska. The entry-level event crosses into a realm most would consider endurance - 100 miles. And I was a lot of things in November 2005, but I was not an enduro-nut.

It was around that time that I first came across Fatty’s blog. His self-depreciating humor and amusingly spot-on dieting misadventures snagged me. Pretty soon I was reading all about his one-day trips around the White Rim and Leadville 100 races. And I got to thinking ... here is a self-proclaimed fat guy who scarfs pounds of mashed potatoes and spends his time writing open letters to the Internet, and he can handle these long rides. Why not me?

Of course it’s not as simple as that. But there are so many ways in which random intersections across the paths of strangers can change our own course. The way my entry into endurance cycling parallels my change in Internet habits is not a coincidence. I didn’t see these possibilities in myself until I watched others stretch their wings.

Now I'm one of hundreds of anonymous cyclists pedaling the world's roads and trails in an orange and black jersey, connected only by one man's blog. It may seem like an arbitrary connection, but if I ever saw another one of those shirts making its way up the road, you can bet I'd stop the person it's attached to. We're on the same team after all.

Fatty has since moved the focus of his blog from cycling/diet guru to avenger of cancer. After his wife, Susan, was diagnosed a couple of months ago, Team Fatty reached out in inspiring ways. Cards, letters and tokens of appreciation rolled in from all over the world, and now Fatty is rolling out a new jersey - pink, to fight Susan's breast cancer. And we who accidentally stumbled across Fatty's small corner of the Internet - the wannabe endurance riders, the mashed-potato lovers, the fat cyclists - have united in support of a stranger.

"People who say the Internet is an ugly place have been hanging around the wrong parts of the Internet," he wrote.

I completely agree.

12 comments:

  1. Hi Jill,

    I was stopped by someone who had ordered the pink jersey the day before. See
    http://historian2wheels.blogspot.com/2007/06/photo-of-fat-cylist.html

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  2. Whew, I was afraid that post was about me.

    mmm, mashed potatoes!

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  3. Can't wait for mine to show.... it well be rocked on the GDR!

    Way cool! Hows the knee after the spill?

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  4. Jill, I don't comment often, but I'm moved to speak up here. I found YOU and your inspiring blog through Fatty's blog, which I found by randomly searching for some fitness motivation. Both of you rock! Each in your own ways. You're an especially good writer and and artist in visual composition. I can't tell you how inspiring it is to think about you snow biking, when I'm having a hard time with a little wind or traffic (FLAT Burbank, CA). Last time I was really fit was around 1975. Doing the B7 challenge over on Fatty's forum, and now 20 lbs lighter and a bit faster, I'm on my way back. Guess you'd call me a recovering fat cyclist. You can bet if I see you or one of the hundreds of others like me wearing the pink or the orange and black, I'll stop for a chat and maybe a snack.
    Keep posting, I believe you're now influencing thousands, and take care. You'll be back full strength before long.

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  5. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Jill,
    I too found your website from a link on Fattys site and you inspire the wannabe cyclists. Your ride miles each month and the weather conditions you ride in!!! I bought a new Trek bike last year for $409 and swore I would ride it at least 1 mile/dollar. It took me months to do this, but your mileage just makes me look like a fat, slow, middle aged road hazard!

    Your pictures and literary style make the difference. Your philosofical rants, the details you paint of the scenes around you, just makes some of us feel that we are missing out on life with the way we live in our rat race lifestyle.

    I bought a pink fatty jersey for my wife and I (I will for sure wear it on the road once I can finish the remodeling projects). When we are able to go to Alaska, we will be sure to wear them in Juneau so you can stop and talk.

    Keep on blogging and sending those photos. Get well soon.

    AMG in Texas

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  6. i hereby proclaim you to be the nicest person in the world.

    with the coolest photo of a fat cyclist jersey so far.

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  7. Jill, what size are you wearing? I want to order one and want to make sure I order the right size? I am normally between a 10 and 12 for my upper body?

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  8. Fatty Rules! In fact so do you! I love your new header! That is a great picture too.

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  9. Thank you all. The idea of playing a small role in inspiring a few others to get out and ride makes all of the road-grit showers and minor frost bite worth it. :-)

    And Fatty, thank you. Why, that's the nicest title anyone's ever given me, hyperbole be darned. I had an extra $50 come my way today and can't wait to buy a matching pink jersey.

    And Christine, the one I'm wearing in the photo is a men's size small. It fits perfectly (I'm about a size 6 in women's) but then again, I don't have much of a chest. Alas.

    Thanks, Highway Munky. I've been meaning to make a new header for ages, and finally I did it (had to use a crappy PC word processing program because I can't do such frivolous things on the nice software at work. But it turned out all right.)

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  10. Thanks Jill. I will figure out the sizing somehow. Actually, I think, they are selling the brand here in town, so I could go and try one on (duh).
    Love your header as well:) Needed someone to point it out though. I always "jump" on your new posts, so I don't even take the time to scroll all the way up. One of these days, I want to do some ice-biking!!

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  11. I went and tried them on and I am a ladies large and it doesn't even sit too snug:) I think, my biking starts to pay off on the scale as well:))

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  12. Jill, I got my FC jersey last week and wore it on a ride the same day... I was hoping to see anothe FatCyclist Jersey wearer on my ride, but alas, this isn't UTAH. I thought of Susan a lot on that ride, and you as well biking in the nasty juneau weather (it makes my ride easier). You and fatty and Large Fella On a Bike are my biggest internet inspirations and part of my renewed commitment to riding everyday... I'm getting there. Thanks for helping me kick my ass back into motion!

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